Brandon Lewis, the former planning minister, announced in 2015 that the deadline for planning authorities in England to produce local plans would be “early 2017”. He also concluded that if they failed to do so by the deadline, they would face government intervention. The statement released said that where a local plan hadn’t been produced by the deadline, the government would look to "intervene to arrange for the plan to be written, in consultation with local people, to accelerate production".
In the run up to the Housing White Paper there was speculation throughout the industry that authorities would be given more time, however Gavin Barwell, the current planning minister, stated in October 2016 that this was not the case.
Interestingly the white paper, which was released in March this year, made no mention of the deadline. The only reference to the process was to once again confirm that the government would intervene where local authorities were "not making sufficient progress on producing or reviewing their plans". The paper stated that this was to ensure communities in areas without plans "are not disadvantaged by unplannned growth".
While “early 2017” fails to set a specific deadline, few could argue as we approach May that the allocated time is not coming to an end. The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) were recently asked whether the government’s plan to intervene still existed, which they confirmed it did. While they still insist that the threat is real, we will only truly see once the “early 2017” deadline has passed.